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Local leaders cry racism over controversial Paladino email

Posted at 5:32 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 19:11:11-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — An email from local developer and former Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino has sparked outcry among other local leaders.

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan held a news conference Thursday to condemn the email titled "19 Pictures from Hell -- Formerly Paris." The email depicts photos of people of different races accompanied by comments that blame refugees, Muslims and people of color for tensions in Europe. At one point in the email, Paladino stated there's "a lack of white people in France." Ryan says Paladino continues to spread hatred and racism by sending these types of emails.

"We shouldn't tolerate, as a community, having him be one of our leaders." Ryan said. "He in many ways is the face of Buffalo. People from all over the state and all over the country receive his propaganda, and it reflects poorly on Buffalo."

Ryan was joined by the president of NAACP Buffalo, Pastor Mark Blue, who criticized Paladino for making racist statements against groups of people who have helped him become rich.

"Give that money back that the immigrants that you claim that you don't like, and the Muslims and the African Americans have put in your pocket," Blue said. "If you don't want to give that back, then shut up."

Paladino was removed from the Buffalo School Board in 2017 by the New York State Education Department following racist comments he made about the Obamas. The comments, published in Artvoice, suggested former First Lady Michelle Obama be "let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla." The incident prompted months of protests and a hearing in Albany. At the time, Paladino defended his comments as free speech and said he was not a racist.

In response to Thursday's news conference, Paladino reaffirmed his beliefs that he is not a racist and does not believe the material disseminated in the email promotes racism.

"There's a lot of zealots in this town, Paladino said. "They have nothing better to do."

Ryan, Blue and other local leaders called on the Western New York's business community to stop doing business with Paladino. Lawmaker Ryan specifically called out Kaleida Health and M&T Bank during the news conference. We've reached out to both companies for comment and are awaiting statements.